Technology & Innovation

Australia, in its third consecutive year of record-breaking emission levels, has finally started to promote the use of electric vehicles. Research, led by the Electric Vehicle Council (EVC), finds if Australia extensively adapts to an electric-powered mobility system it can eliminate 16 million barrels of imported oil every year by 2030.

Partners of the HYPOS alliance – a German consortium including VNG, Ontras and the Fraunhofer Institute – have launched a platform to store renewable hydrogen in a salt cavern in Bad Lauchstädt, Saxony-Anhalt. The plan is to build Europe’s first hydrogen storage and operate it for research purposes.

Engine+ Hybrid Energy, Wärtsilä's latest technology solution, pairs gas-fuelled engines with energy management systems and storage. It forms a fully integrated system that provides reliable power supply for operators and power producers of islanded grids. Payback periods can be as short as two years, the Finish manufacturer claims.

Six partners – Ansaldo Thomassen, Delft University, OPRA Turbines, Vattenfall, Nouryon and EMMTEC – have been granted €500 million by the Dutch Government for research into ‘High Hydrogen Gas Turbine Retrofit to Eliminate Carbon Emissions’. The aim is to develop a CO2-free hydrogen value chain, in line with the EU Energy Roadmap 2050.

General Electric has installed its first DLN1.0+ Ultra Low NOx combustion upgrade globally at nine GE 9E gas turbines at five power stations in Shenzen Province, China. The upgrade reduces NOx emissions from about 25ppm to about 7.5ppm, in line with the Shenzhen government’s ‘Blue Sky’ campaign.

Engineers at GE, together with the Southwestern Research Institute (SwRI) have designed, built and tested what is said to be the highest-temperature supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) turbine in the world. The turbine, featuring a multi-stage axial flow sCO2 hot gas turbo-expander, was developed with a $6.8 million U.S. government grant on top of $3 million industry funding.

Manufacturers of power generation equipment like MAN Energy Solutions see hydrogen as a future alternative fuel source for its gas turbines, though switching from methane to hydrogen a conversion of the turbine combustion chamber to allow for higher firing temperatures. Demand for H2-solutions keeps rising as states like California aim for 100% clean energy by 2045.

Intermittency issues of wind and solar power supply are feared to jeopardize the stability of the U.S. power grid. To remedy this issue scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an “air-breathing” battery storage that, at the cheapest, run about $100/kWh and functions only in certain locations.

Swiss-based ABB and Rolls-Royce of the UK have entered a global partnership on microgrid technology and advanced automation, particularly for hybrid power systems. Mircogrids are critical to integrate rising volumes of renewable energy and benefit utilities and industrial users alike.

The Indian manufacturer ELGi Equipments is showcasing its new AB ‘Always Better’ air compressor series, a breakthrough in oil free compressed air technology, at Hannover Messe ComVac 2019 this week. Air Alert, an IoT-based, machine-monitoring platform is also on display at the trade show.

Siemens is supporting a study by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics (IEE), and the French Grenoble Ecole de Management, on SF6 and F-gas free alternatives for medium voltage (MV) gas-insulated switchgear installations in Europe. The research – funded by Siemens and Schneider Electric Industries – has started in mid-March and is running until early 2020.

Uniper, formed in 2016 as a spin-off of E.ON's fossil power plant assets, has started producing methane gas from excess wind and solar power through electrolysis at its Falkenhagen Power-to-Gas (P2G) plant. The project demonstrates it is feasible to produce entirely green energy with qualities identical to natural gas.

MAN Energy Solutions is targeting ASEAN and Africa with its new integrated LNG-to-Power solutions. “We have new projects under development mainly in Asia and western- and northern Africa. But this is a business we are still building,” said business development manager Carsten Dommermuth. “For the entire project development up to the commercial operating date we allocate a time frame of 3 to 5 years.”

U.S. engine manufacturer Cummins will present its newly launched HSK78G gas generators at the Energy Hannover trade show on April 1-5, where the series will be showcased in Europe for the first time. With a power density from 1.6 to 2.0 MW from a 78L engine, the HSK78G generator can reach up to 44.2% electrical efficiency on 50Hz models.

China’s State Power Investment Corp (SPIC) and Siemens have signed a strategic partnership framework agreement, building on the companies' earlier agreed technology collaboration for heavy-duty gas turbines. The contract was sealed in Beijing today by SPIC chairman Qian Zhimin and Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser. The aim is to create a China-based supplier eco-system.

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News in Brief

Tohoku Electric tenders for LNG cargo

Aug 19 – Tohoku Electric Power, the fourth-largest electric utility in Japan in terms of revenue behind Tepco, Kepco and Chubu, is understood to be seeking an LNG cargo for delivery in September. A tender process is ongoing.

Cost for decarbonizing industry tops $21tr

Aug 16 – Total costs to fully decarbonize the four most polluting industries – cement, steel, ammonia and ethylene – are estimated to amount to $21 trillion between today and 2050. McKinsey said this could be lowered to about $11 trillion if zero-carbon electricity prices come down further compared to fossil fuel prices. In this event, industry could switch to using electricity for heating processes.

Co-firing Braskem plant with hydrogen

Aug 15 – Siemens is making fossil energy greener at the Braskem onsite power plant in Brazil. In this modernization project two SGT-600 gas turbines are co-fired up to 60% with hydrogen, enhancing efficiency for the production process of the adjacent the petrochemical complex.

Canada's CO2 tax to hit CCGTs

Aug 5 – Change in Canada’s carbon emissions tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could significantly lower the profitability of gas generation and could prompt SaskPower reconsider its planned Moose Jaw gas power station.

GE CFO steps down

Aug 2 – Jamie S. Miller, General Electric’s chief financial officer, has decided to quit after two years in the job and 11 years with the company. Having overseen GE’s fiscal activities during a period of intense restructuring, Miller will remain in office while the GE board is looking for a successor.

Siemens HR boss quits

Aug 1 – Janina Kugel, Siemens chief HR officer, is leaving the company amid an apparently scattered working relationship and stark personal differences with CEO Joe Kaeser. Her contract will expire by mutual agreement on January 31, 2020.

ABB standardizes eBus chargers

July 31 – Zurich-based ABB, a member of the ASSURED consortium, is working on standardizing the specifications for automatic charging of heavy vehicles. The aim is to drive down the total cost of ownership for electric fleet operators, helping increase adoption of eBuses and eTrucks. Conformance and interoperability tests will be carried out in Q4-2019.

U.S. Senate helps fund EV charging stations

July 30 – The need for expanded electric vehicle charging infrastructure is greater than expected given that there had been over 1.75 million electric vehicles (EV) in North America at the end of 2018, a nearly 60% increase from the previous year. To help fund additional charging stations, among other things, the U.S. Senate approved the $287 billion America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA).

PNOC, Lloyds to develop merchant LNG-to-Power projects

July 29 – Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lloyds Energy to develop a 1,200 MW LNG-fuelled power plant in partnership with Mitsubishi. Dubai-based Lloyds Energy is looking at ways to develop integrated LNG import facilities and gas power plants on a merchant basis in Bataan and Batangas provinces.

Macquarie finances CCGT in Mexico

July 26 – Macquarie Capital has chosen Credit Agricole, Natixis and SMBC to co-finance a $380 million combined-cycle gas power plant. The 560 MW plant is designated to be built in San Louis Potosi, a city in central Mexico.

Naturgy cashes in on gas network

July 25 – Spanish gas utility Naturgy has posted a 7% rise in core earnings for the first half of the year due to strong gains from its gas network business that helped offset falling revenues from power generation and slimmer LNG margins.

French court rejects appeal against Total CCGT

July 24 – Judges at an appeal court in Nantes have thrown out an appeal by environmentalist against Total’s planned Landivisiau combined-cycle gas power plant in Brittany. The 440 MW project, initiated by Direct Energy which was since acquired by Total, is over two years behind schedule. The French grid operator RTE has singled out the Landivisiau CCGT as “critical” in guaranteeing supply security in winter 2020/21 due to the planned shutdown of four coal power plants.

U.S. gas production falls in wake of ‘Barry’

July 23 – Shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry have scaled back U.S. gas production by 1.6 billion cubic feet per day, compared to last week, while power sector gas demand rose by just over 2.0 bcf/d. Consequently, there is significantly less gas available for storage so the injection rate has halved, according to Energy Aspects figures.

Blackout after fire at Madison substation

July 22 – Electricity is gradually being restored at Madison, Wisconsin, after 13,000 people experience a blackout following an explosion at a substation near Madison Gas & Electric’s 100 MW gas-fired Blount Generating Station. No injuries were reported.

Fuel switch could abate 1.2bn tons of CO2

July 19 – Some 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 could be abated by switching to gas using existing infrastructure, if prices and regulation are supportive. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), this would be enough to bring global CO2 emissions back down to where they were in 2013.

IEA launches methane tracker

July 18 – A new ‘methane tracker’, launched by the International Energy Agency (IEA), provides up-to-date estimates of current oil and gas methane emissions by drawing on the best available data. Analysts stressed methane emissions could be reduced by nearly half at no net cost.

Canada’s CO2 tax also affects gas power

July 17 – Change in Canada’s carbon tax regulation for new power plants has changed to also affect cleaner-burning, gas combined-cycle power stations starting from 2021. The move could cause SaskPower to reconsider its planned upcoming Moose Jaw gas power station.